Thursday, February 21, 2008

Rock Revival Time Capsule: Super Session (1968), Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper, Stephen Stills Make a Blues-Jam Masterpiece

By 1968 Al Kooper, Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills were three of the most influential musicians in America

Kooper and Bloomfield had already made history by playing with Bob Dylan at his electric debut at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965.

The career of these two musicians had many other parrallels: Kooper formed Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1967, the same year that Bloomfield formed Electric Flag. Both bands were unique at the time. Adding soul and funk to rock, relying on a horn section as well as blues guitar. (note: Kooper later discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd)

Stephen Stills had already made his name with Buffalo Springfield and in 1969 the first Crosby, Stills & Nash album would be released.

The album Super Sessions was recorded in 1968:

Why not do an entire jam album together?" Kooper recalls. "At the time, most jazz albums were made using this modus operandi: pick a leader or two co-leaders, hire appropriate sidemen, pick some tunes, make some up and record an entire album on the fly in one or two days. Why not try and legitimize rock by adhering to these standards?

The album was recorded from a ten hour ‘live’ set in the studio: Bloomfield plays guitar on the first side and Stephen Stills was brought in at the last minute for the second side due to Bloomfields serious Heroin addiction.

"Albert's Shuffle"
"Man's Temptation"
"His Holy Modal Majesty"
"It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry"
" Season of the Witch”
"You Don't Love Me"
"Harvey's Tune"

The album, which cost just $13,000 to make, made the top-20 and went gold. It represents the pinacle of blues-rock by three artists who could rely on their talent alone.

Image: Courtesy Sony

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